The wise old man & the sea – Chapter 6

There is something magical about the beginning of ‘Once upon a time.’ It transports me instantly to the world of imagination, possibility and belief. For eons, Japan has been the land of innovation. ‘Without having foreign ideas coerced on them, thinkers of this region have almost always had the luxury of alternatives, outside the binary of simple wholehearted acceptance or utter rejection.’

Needless to say that Once upon a time, when the old man sat down with a broken pot and gold dust, the tourists in his café couldn’t help but notice with sheer curiosity.

“Why don’t you toss it in the bin? Its just a ceramic pot.” Said a young adolescent.

The old man arched his eyebrows, and without looking up, smiled. “Its about embracing imperfections and adding a little glitter to the damage. Every scar has a story and it is in those tales that life is lived.”

“Are you referring to Wabi-sabi, perhaps?”

“As a philosophy, yes. It is fairly similar to kintsugi; and they are both about embracing the flawed or the imperfect. What I am going to do is to highlight the broken pieces of this pot so that when you look at it, you focus on the gold glitter, not on the crack. I am not attempting to hide the damage but am working on illuminating it. So that once it is revitalised, it becomes a symbol of beauty, fragility and strength.” 🙂

A few other teenagers came around the old man. “I think it is human to look at someone’s flaws the way they are. Why disguise it?”

“The question is incorrect, my dear.” He replied softly. “I am not disguising it, but giving it another perspective. The cracks will still remain, the only difference will be is that it will be glorified, so that when you look at it, it wows you. The essence of Kintsugi is just this – focus on the hidden beauty and power. Imagine the scope of your own mind when you realise that even though parts of you may be broken beyond repair, transformation is always possible. All you need are a few sprinkles of gold dust! No matter how many windows keep closing on you, if you have the will to keep walking, doors will open. You just have to get back up, pick up the little pieces and fix them back as you go.”

“Interesting, but I don’t believe that we can change our outlook so dramatically. Some things are ingrained in us.”

The old man smiled as he kept working on his pot. “I read a quote by Rumi – The wound is the place where the light enters you, my dear. We arrive hastily at emotional conclusions and create stories around our wounds. Instead of giving it time to heal, we set timelines and rush towards them with blinkers but in real, it doesn’t work that way. If I add too much gold, this mixture will be too soft to heal the crack, likewise.. if you have scars you need to heal, you need to be patient and keep filling them in. If you attempt to quicken the process and adhere all the broken fragments, they may appear to be healed but eventually, they will all fall apart because they hadn’t been given enough time to cure. To go from broken to beautiful, every part of you that has a crack needs to be visited individually. And then, once each of them are re-experienced, should you attempt to sit down and join the shattered fragments together so that you never get cut again.”

“Now that you say it this way, it actually makes a lot of sense. We give ourselves timelines thinking that we have healed and want to move on, but in actuality – there is always a plan we aren’t aware of.”

The old man showed the broken pot, in its complete beauty. “I could have tossed it away the minute it broke.. but I chose to restore it, with its flaws so each time I look at it, I see a newer beautiful version.”

He took out a fortune cookie and gave it to one of the teenagers. He cracked it open and read it out aloud, ‘A beautiful mind is what will make a beautiful body. Work with your inner demons so that once they sleep, they sleep for life.’

He stood up and placed at the pot on the bar counter. He put in some fortune cookies and smiled at the children as he walked out, on the beach, happily ever after!



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  1. Fantastic ! Pooja.
    Loved every word and the thoughts. I am too a big follower of Japanese philosophy and Rumi.

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